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Lost and Old Rivers: Stories (Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series; 19) Hardcover – September 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Series: Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series; 19
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press; 1st edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870744321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870744327
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,123,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

NPR commentator, novelist, memoirist and short-story writer Cheuse has an impressive command of many voices. His new collection of 10 short narratives and one semi-autobiographical "story from memory" ranges from the disillusionment of an unusually tall young woman struggling to break into Washington's political life ("The Tunnel") to the helplessness of the first Jew sentenced by the Mexican Inquisition in the 16th century ("Hernando Alonso"). Cheuse's characters are loners: divorced or far from home, they have difficulty making friends and finding love. Jackson, in "Man in a Barrel," imagines telling a woman, "You got cats? I got herpes." In his best stories, Cheuse's characters reluctantly realize that their lives will probably never change unless they decide to make them worse. In the weaker ones, the language and plot do not gather momentum and the narrative ends before the characters come into focus. "An Afternoon of Harp Music in Lake Charles, Louisiana," a tale of the tense reunion of two sisters, ends awkwardly in an abrupt metaphor of a turtle eating a carp. However, "On the Millstone River," in which Cheuse writes in the first person about his parents, his two wives and his three children, gracefully uses images of water to unite its segments. The evocative, elegiac prose is seductive, revealing Cheuse's own character and shedding light on the stories that precede it.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Many readers will be familiar with Cheuse (The Tennessee Waltz and Other Stories, LJ 2/15/90), a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His new collection offers superb stories for those who can endure Cheuse's sometimes gloomy and wounded narrators. All have suffered disappointment and loss, e.g., loss of children through divorce ("Man in a Barrel") or the betrayal of an unfaithful spouse ("Dreamland"). Yet Cheuse's skill as a writer makes it hard not to be drawn into each dreary, bleak existence and to exit without feeling transformed. The collection's most powerful piece is the moving, semi-autobiographical "On the Millstone River: A Story from Memory," which chronicles the life of a nameless American writer. For most collections.?Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author


"The Voice of Books on National Public Radio"--that's how novelist, essayist and story writer Alan Cheuse has been described. For over twenty-five years, Cheuse has been "reading for America" every week on NPR, and he's also been writing a number of books of his own, and teaching the art of narrative and literature at George Mason University for over twenty years.
He is the author of the novels The Bohemians, The Grandmothers' Club and The Light Possessed. His latest novel, To Catch the Lightning (winner of the 2009 Grub Street Prize for Fiction), follows the career of turn of the century photographer Edward S. Curtis and his quest to photograph the western tribes of North America. He is also the author of several collections of short fiction and a pair of novellas published under the title The Fires. He is the co-editor with Nicholas Delbanco of Talking Horse: Bernard Malamud on Life and Art, and co-author with Delbanco of Literature: Craft & Voice, a major newly published introduction to college literary study, and also the co-editor of Writers Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction, and editor of Listening to Ourselves: Great American Short Fiction.
Cheuse's essays, short stories, and reviews have appeared in numerous places, such as The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, World Literature Today, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and other venues. His essay collection, Listening to the Page, appeared in 2001. His collected travel essays came out in June 2009 under the title A Trance After Breakfast.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it is because as the literary commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" Cheuse reviews the finest literature in contemporary English language, that his own writing is of the same caliber. His lush use of language in his stories draws the reader in just the same way that his deep, engaging voice does on the radio. No person of literary tastes should be without this collection.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Characters all seem cut from the same clueless cloth (except for the title character in "Hernando Alonso"). They are unable to understand the people around them, and sex seems to be their only metaphor. By contrast, Karen Joy Fowler's stories in "Black Glass" show great variety in character, style, tone, and structure.
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